I grew up in a neighborhood where we talked about a lot of things. Sometimes it became uncomfortable, but we got through it.
We got through it because we cared about each other. We loved and respected the people on our block and in our community.
Now America is in an uncomfortable position. Why? Because we must communicate, open-up and be honest about the racial climate in the United States of America.
Race is a sensitive topic and we cannot hide from it. It is staring us in the face. We must un-silence our voices. Not to do so will only make the problem worse.
As citizens, we have been wading in racial waters for a long time, in fact too long. Prior to even the Civil Rights Movement, Blacks and Whites have had dialogues about race.
With time being an ally, they started, sometimes continued and sometimes were postponed. Those involved did their best to give hope to our country.
In the meantime, racism did not stop. It was like a wound exposed with no doctor in sight. It just festered. We lamented the fact that racism was still exploding in all facets of American life.
Then came the tragic killing of George Floyd in front of our very eyes. Our sense of fairness and equality was shaken. Only this time, it hit rock bottom.
The inescapable truth is that much of America is still separate and woefully unequal. Wherever we look, this nation’s systems have fallen short. Equal protection under the law is an axiom that has little meaning to Black people. These are words on paper without equal application.
Now, there seems to be an awakening of some kind.
People who do not look like me have come out of their shells. For example, CBS network recently televised the BET Awards in prime time no less.
When I initially saw it advertised, I thought it was just my imagination running away with me. As a major enterprise, CBS could no longer remain silent. The executives there had to act. Let us see what else they do.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin donated 120 million dollars to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Hastings said, “It made us realize that our part of this, to have America be the country we all want it to be, was to focus on education.”
This gift was the largest gift given to Black schools. Reports say that 20% of Black people 25 years and older have a bachelor’s degree. This compares to 40% of White people with a bachelor’s degree.
Silence is no longer an option. If you have been on mute about race, you must un-mute yourself and speak up and speak out.
All of us must begin to talk more to each other. It is only then that we can get to the healing part of our long racial suffering.
Conversations about race must happen more often and be more intentional and comprehensive. Apprehension must give way to participation; fear must give way to faith and reticence must give way to respect.
These conversations must begin in our workplaces, classrooms, places of worship and in our homes. These dialogues at times will be all Black, all White and sometimes Black and White.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end when we become silent about things that matter.” Those sentiments were true then and they are true now.
There is a hard reality facing us. We may never have this type of opportunity again. We must seize this moment. We have a chance to change. We cannot go back.